I don’t know what to say to Jerry. I don’t know how much to disclose. When I first met him he made a derogatory comment about how everyone in the IT field around Pittsburgh, PA was of blue-collar roots, and thus didn’t understand how the game was played. I feel the need to make Jerry like me, as he is one of the few people I have contact with at EDS. The company I work for, the country’s largest niche magazine publisher, is contracting out all the ‘Tier One” and “Tier Two” support. I found this out last month when my boss told me abruptly that I needed to be at the Manhattan office for a meeting.

“What’s it about?” I asked. I’m not used to getting invited to meetings, and especially not something major in New York.

“ I dunno. I think it’s something to do with standardization. All I know is you got to be there.” He lied, of course. I don’t blame him though. In this corporate game in which we both play the distribution of information is plotted and schemed. I know his hands were bound.

After long trains ride from Harrisburg to Penn Station I discovered the motive of the meeting. Our companies CIO explained that the entire division of the company was signing on with EDS. There’s about a dozen of us on the chopping block. Shortly after Debra dropped the hammer on us the EDS guys came in the form of Human Resources Representatives and Project Managers to explain to us that they were going to evaluate all the sites, and that if the site warranted an on site technician that one of us would “transition” from Primedia to EDS to fill that slot.

Those of us in limbo have been waiting quietly as representatives from this other company visit our locations and decide our fate. This is Jerry’s second visit to the Harrisburg location. This trip he brought Erik, manager of the Help Desk devoted to servicing my company. Erik is to learn the how’s and why’s of dealing with daily desktop problems, and how we want them to handle information gathering before a service tech is called. As he picks my brain for information I feel hope slipping out the back door. The more he knows about our subtle nuances the less they need me.

Erik is a pretty nice guy. He’s from Detroit. We joke about how he should not be as nervous about the sniper in the DC suburbs wreaking havoc only a few hours away. Erik smokes, so every time he wants a break he comes and asks me to join him. We went out early in the day today, around ten thirty, and I tell Erik how nervous and scared I am about potentially being unemployed this time next month. He says that I don’t really have anything to worry about, that EDS needs me more than I know. It’s hard to take information like this from someone who has no bearing on its outcome. Is he perhaps just trying to make me feel better? Perhaps. Is he trying to ensure he gets the most data out of my possible? Perhaps.

Hours pass as they usually do and I’m running around in usual fashion putting out fires here and there. I pass by the small conference room and catch a glimpse of Jerry talking to my superiors about new Help Desk procedures, or something of the like. Jerry and I are supposed to have lunch today, but I can see that’s not going to happen now. I feel like a corpse being raided by vultures. What would happen to this skeleton once it had been picked clean?

I catch Jerry and Erik in the hall near the end of my shift. Jerry jokes with me. “Ready for lunch?” I laugh. It’s strange for me to feel so awkward around these people. I am usually noted for being cool under pressure and keeping a level head through catastrophe, “Jake, it’s come to my attention that you think the termination date is still mid-November?” Jerry asks. “ I take it that your companies HR department hasn’t been dispensing any info to you? Jesus, here’s the deal Jake… and it has to stay here between us. You are going to get an offer from EDS. It’ll be your current salary plus compensation from moving to a forty hour week from a thirty-five.” This constitutes about a five thousand dollar raise for me.

“Thanks a lot Jerry.” It’s hard to say anything else to him. I couldn’t keep the stupid smile off my face. It was like finding out the girl you’ve always liked wants you. I shook his hand, agreed to meet for lunch the next day, and walked back to my desk.

A thousand pound weight had been lifted from my shoulders.